UCLA softball beats Duke, advances to NCAA Women’s College World Series – Orange County Register

LOS ANGELES —UCLA softball coach Kelly Inouye-Perez could not slow down her speech during Saturday night’s postgame press conference.

The Bruins had just fought off a relentless Duke team that for back-to-back nights gave them nearly all they could handle, despite being in just its fifth season as a program, to secure a bid to the NCAA Women’s College World Series.

“I love when a team comes and brings their‘ A ’game,” Inouye-Perez said, before continuing on to praise her team seemingly endlessly. “We’re going back to the World Series and I couldn’t be more proud… I spoke fast, huh?”

UCLA beat Duke, 8-2, at Easton Stadium after the Blue Devils tied the game in the fourth inning. Delanie Wisz had the go-ahead hit, scoring Kelly Godin in the fifth inning.

Adding to the excitement that made Inouye-Perez talk so fast, Megan Faraimo came in to pitch three innings in relief, yielding no runs, three hits and logging seven strikeouts.

Freshman Savannah Pola hit a sacrifice fly in the third inning to score Maya Brady (3-for-4, two RBIs). Brady singled to get on base, then stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch to put herself in scoring position.

Brady stole two bases in the game to bring her season total to 13.

“You’ve gotta be able to make a decision quickly, and then be able to execute,” Inouye-Perez said of Brady’s base running. “I got to see Maya do that in seventh grade when she came up for a camp and she’s gotten bigger, stronger and faster.”

The No. 5-seeded Bruins (48-8) ended the bottom of the inning quickly, with Godin swiping two fly outs in the left field and Kinsley Washington scooping up a ground out at first base.

Wisz (2-for-4, three RBIs) grounded out to start the fourth inning, then Brady sent a solo home run flying to the left center field wall for her 14th home run of the season.

“Coach I said today was gonna be my day because I wasn’t able to produce for my team yesterday,” Brady said. “I just had to have faith in the entire season that I have behind my back and rely on the experience that I’ve had.”

No. 12 seed Duke (44-11) answered with a home run of her own in the bottom of the frame as Caroline Jacobson tied the game with a two-run homer over the right center wall. Holly Azevedo got UCLA out of the inning by striking out Gisele Tapia on the next at-bat.

Wisz’s RBI double in the fifth inning pulled the Bruins ahead by one run. Brady followed up with a double that nearly scored Wisz, but she was called out at home plate after review of the play.

“My approach is the same every at-bat,” Wisz said. “Just to be a tough out any way I can. Just hit the ball hard and get my pitch. ”

Faraimo relieved Azevedo in the circle to start the bottom of the fifth inning. In four innings, Azevedo gave up two hits and two runs while recording four strikeouts and walking two.

The Bruins defense held the Blue Devils scoreless in the remaining three innings. Anna Vines caught Rachel Crabtree stealing in the sixth inning, preserving the Bruins’ lead as the final inning loomed.

UCLA put up five runs in that seventh stanza. Godin and Washington both singled to start it off, then Wisz doubled to drive them both in. Brady came immediately after for an RBI single that put the Bruins up 6-2.

Faraimo was walking with bases loaded and Brady scored on a passed ball for two more UCLA runs to secure the win.

“It’s a dogfight,” Inouye-Perez said. “They’re gonna throw punches, we’re gonna throw punches. It’s ultimately not who scores first, but who scores last. “

The NCAA Women’s College World Series begins on June 2.

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